LFirst address the elephant in the room. Yes, this EA Falcon has four alloy wheels wearing eight individual tires. To find out why, read on, because as weird as it is, there’s a lot more to this strangely fascinating beast.
First published in the December 2022 issue. Street Machine
“In the early days fiberglass was really tough, scary stuff,” says Damian Clark of TSS Body Kit Components. “It took 12 weeks of full-time work to get it ready for paint.”
If you’ve never heard of the TSS Falcon, you’re surely forgiven. The XF-EA Falcon era spawned some very special aftermarket specials, and GP Sportscars’ TSS Falcon was just one of them. Some companies added simple bolt-ons like headers and exhaust, while others opened up the ass for bigger bumps. And in those early years of forced induction, the intercooled turbo kits that were available could really push the EA.
The TSS Falcon took a different route to forced induction, though, using a sealed Sprintex twin-screw supercharger made by FTD Australia, also found on more than a few 1980s Range Rovers, Land Cruisers and Patrols. was planted. But how did the car come into being in the first place?
There were many players in the TSS Falcon saga, but GP Sportscars in Victoria seemed to be the main distributor, and also produced the body kit. Paul is the only example seen with the orange stripe combo and Sprintex stickers.
To promote their bolt-on blower system, FTD Australia founded a separate company, Designer Vehicles Australia, and realized that a Falcon with the wow factor would be just the ticket as a proof of concept. Victorian motor racing icon Max de Jersey was tasked with creating and tooling the production blower kit, and to fit it the Red EA Falcon (already sporting a wild body kit, interior and wheels ) was given.
He also developed custom engine mounts and added two injectors and a piggyback Haltech ECU to solve the fuel starvation problem (which didn’t affect the low-revving 4x4s). Unbeknownst to Max, though, the Falcon hadn’t played a scarecrow against him, so he was soon recaptured, ending his relationship with the car.
The JJD twin tires were available through JJD Wheel Concept Systems Australia based in WA. Max de Jersey himself recalled the wheels, manufactured by Crimson of Japan, as “beautifully made”.
History is unclear both as to the fate of this first car and at what point GP Sportscars became involved in the process, but in any case, six more full-bodied TSS Falcons were produced.
The incredible machine you see here, owned by Paul Connolly, is believed to be the fifth of the six. It sports all the modifications found on the prototype, including the twin-screw Sprintex supercharger, epic body kit with a Cosworth-style rear wing, super-luxurious custom interior, and those incredible wheels. “I went to a car show in Grafton and came across this bloody Falcon with twin tyres,” recalls Paul. “That’s all I knew, and I had to get it. I didn’t know anyone I’d ever seen or heard of. This is from a guy whose garage was otherwise. Full of Holdens!
Baking in the sun on top of a shipping container over the years had damaged the car. “The wheels and rear arm were sitting in,” says Paul. “Everything was cooked, so I got a team of local blokes together to help fix it.”
One of those blokes was Damien Clarke, panel beater and painter extraordinaire. “The dog legs were gone behind the doors, as was the bottling and some metal around the windscreen,” says Damian. “EAs all do this; they’re amazing.” Falcon had a few hits along the way, but nothing out of the ordinary and easy for Damian. What was out of the ordinary was the body kit, which gave the man several headaches.
Owner Paul had to leave the room when mechanic Mark Yager tuned up the Falcon! “A cheater squeals like a pig,” he laughs. “I didn’t even stay for the dino figure!”
“With so few kits built, it’s really no better than a bar,” says Damian. “I could hardly sand the spoiler it was so hard – like an old surfboard. I think I used 16-grit sandpaper to get it back in the end. It wasn’t all that. Falcon. Several summers of accumulation in K’s glass house caused the spoiler to warp severely, forcing Damian to cut it into seven pieces before straightening it again.
Mechanic Mark Yager had fewer problems with the Falcon’s mechanicals at 88,000 km. It’s standard fare, after all. “We took the engine out of it to freshen it up,” he says. “Paul didn’t want it to be hot or anything. He didn’t even want a camshaft.
Developers FTD Australia wanted the supercharger kit to be a truly bolt-on affair, but Max de Jersey found the Falcon starving for fuel under load. The solution was to install two additional injectors in the throttle bodies, with a piggyback Heltec ECU to control them.
For the record, TSS Falcon was referenced. Performance street car magazine as making 209kW (280hp) at 4250rpm and 486Nm at 3600rpm – a modest increase on the stock 3.9-litre’s 139kW/338Nm figures. “Six-cylinder Falcons have been a favorite of mine for a long time,” says Mark. “They just make so much power without heaps of work on them.”
There’s no doubt that Paul’s TSS Falcon is already a vehicle, but what about those wheels? They’re mind-blowing to watch, but do they have a point?
It took four hides to replicate TSS Falcon’s Bibendum-inspired interior. “It looked ugly as hell when I did it, but once it was installed, it worked,” says trimmer Brian McKinney. Being based on the Falcon S means the car still sports wind-up windows.
Czech/Guatemalan race car driver Jerry Johan literally reinvented the wheel in the early 1980s when he developed the JJD twin tire system. Australian racing legend Colin Bond tested the concept locally, and declared that the tires had excellent grip in the wet or dry.
They cooled under load, resulting in less wear and some damage. The cost, however, was epic – anywhere from $4000 to $6000 depending on size and shape, and about 25 percent of the price of a standard EA Falcon S at the time. Besides, as Bondi said recently, “they just don’t seem to be going away.”
All TSS Falcon components can be ordered standalone, including bespoke walnut trim appliques and an Italian-made Italvolanti Corsa four-spoke steering wheel. At least seven cars copied the entire body kit and caboodle.
With state-of-the-art JJD-compatible tires now more than two decades old, Paul doesn’t run his restored Falcon on rare rubber. He has many other cars for him. “The seat on the car was made in 1986,” he says. “They are beautiful; perfect, in fact. They were stored in the dark and wrapped in black plastic when they arrived.
More than the GP Sportscars body kit or the screaming Sprintex, it’s the JJD wheels that draw people to Paul’s only Ford. To people under 40, they are pretty much unknown, and not even remembered by people over that age.
Although the car only has 88,000km on it, a decade or so of baking in the sun has cooked the interior. Brian McKinney of North Coast Trimming & Supplies had little trouble recreating this intricate trim—though, as he says, “Anyone who thought they could mass-produce it was in shock.” Got it!”
Like the TSS Falcon itself, JJD wheels stand as an odd footnote in motoring history, and for Paul, that’s why EA wanted to restore, display and preserve this amazing oddity from the era. Enough is enough.
The author would like to thank Max de Jersey for taking the time to fill in some blanks.
1988 GP Sports Cars EA Falcon TSS
|Type:||3.9L SOHC Falcon six cylinder|
|Intake:||Twin throttle body|
|include:||Supercharger twin-screw supercharger with multi-point fuel injection|
|head:||Standard head, ported and flow|
|Piston:||ACL Dish Top|
|Valve springs:||Heavy responsibility|
|Ignition:||Bosch Multipoint Distributor|
|Emissions:||Genie extractor to exhaust 2.5in|
|transfer:||BorgWarner T50D five-speed manual, heavy-duty clutch|
|Clutch: Heavy duty||BorgWarner T50D five-speed manual, heavy-duty clutch|
|Difference:||BorgWarner LSD 2.92:1|
|Suspension and brakes|
|in front:||Standard Falcon S springs, cone shocks, rebuilt power rack and pinion steering|
|Back:||Standard Falcon S springs, cone shocks|
|brake:||Standard 287mm discs and calipers (f&r)|
|Wheels and tires|
|codes:||Crimson JJD wheels concept; 16×4.5 (x2) (f&r)|
|Rubber:||Twin tires 125/85R16 (x2) (f&r)|
Edison Holmes for his tireless research. Damian Clarke for paint, panels and re-assembly; Mark Yager of Yager Performance for mechanical work; Brian McKinney of North Coast Trimming and Supplies for Retrim. Craig Barras of Image Perfection Automotive Detailing Brisbane for detailing efforts. My wife Ellie Connolly – the backbone of the operation.